March 15 2010 by Karla Henriquez
The other day, after being out in a freezing cold New England wind, I got curious to know who in the world is worse off than me. So I Googled "world's worst weather." I had to laugh when I saw that a place not far from home claims to have the World's worst weather: Mount Washington in New Hampshire. For many years it held the record for the fastest wind gust ever recorded: 231 mph. (This may be why the observatory at the top is actually chained to the ground.) I was also kind of excited to see that it's a place I've been. The great thing about this peak is that just about anyone can make it to the top. If you haven't been there yet, you really should put it on your list - and when you go, be prepared for any weather!
Mount Washington is the highest peak in the Northeast. Elevation at the summit is 6,288 feet. Visitors usually go between May and October, which is also when the cog rail operates, weather permitting. The actual mountain is in a state park, which is in turn surrounded by the White Mountain National Forest. The area is easily accessible from the Best Western White Mountain Resort.
My favorite Mount Washington experience is riding the steam-engine-pushed train to the very summit. When I saw this track I was just as impressed as I was when I saw the Eiffel Tower up close. Both are an engineering marvel. Once you get over how cool the track is you also get to enjoy a spectacular view as you climb. For those visiting the Northeast from places that are not so densely forested, it's a relief to get up above the trees and experience a vista.
Hikers can skip the ride on the steam engine and make the trip to the summit on foot. There are several routes to the top, the most popular one being along a 4.2-mile trail. For those who are pressed for time after visiting the museum, cafeteria, and observation area at the top, there is a free shuttle back to the trailhead. Don't forget to sign the book at the top - it's part of the experience.